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Author Topic: Price and Edition  (Read 56949 times)
PhillyPhotographer
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« on: September 06, 2008, 09:07:58 PM »
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Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.


Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
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Ronny Nilsen
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2008, 01:27:24 AM »
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Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.
Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Se what  [a href=\"http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/pigmentonpaper.htm]Brooks Jensen[/url] (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.

Pricing  is difficult, but the low price is what you have to make, to make it worth it
to make and sell the prints. The high price is whatever you can sell them for.  

Ronny
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PhillyPhotographer
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2008, 09:43:11 AM »
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Se what  Brooks Jensen (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.

Pricing  is difficult, but the low price is what you have to make, to make it worth it
to make and sell the prints. The high price is whatever you can sell them for.   

Ronny
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220083\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I spoke to Brooks very briefly about this ( I'm in issue #78) and am still comparing the pros and cons. I'm actually going to talk to several photographers today about it and I'll comeback later and post what they said.
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luong
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2008, 06:06:53 PM »
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limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography

It may be technically obsolete, but if you take a good sampling of the gallery world, you'll see it is well alive.
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Ronny Nilsen
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2008, 01:07:50 AM »
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It may be technically obsolete, but if you take a good sampling of the gallery world, you'll see it is well alive.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220908\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's true, but it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing
purposes, and does not have anything to do with photography and photography as art
as such. In my eyes an image isn't more "artsy" because it's a limited edition, but
I know some people see it differently thou.

Ronny
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 01:09:07 AM by ronnynil » Logged

alainbriot
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2008, 11:41:50 AM »
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That's true, but it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing
purposes, and does not have anything to do with photography and photography as art
as such. In my eyes an image isn't more "artsy" because it's a limited edition, but
I know some people see it differently thou.

Ronny
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220958\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree with Ronny.  In fact numbering is a fairly recent development.  Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, etc. did not number prints and only limited the edition number of portfolios.  Adams actually said (I paraphrase) "why limit the number of prints one can make from a medium that is by nature unlimited and in which each print of an image is potentially as good as all other prints?"  

I would add that by limiting an edition, one limits how much better later prints of a given image can be made when significant changes to the technology take place (as they do now)!  What if you sell out the edition of a specific image, and then find out you could now print it better than you ever did before?  If you number, and the edition is sold out, you are out of luck!  You can't print this image anymore without breaking the promise you made to the collectors who purchased your work.

To me it seems that numbering comes out of a static approach to photography, an approach in which the artist believes, explicitely or implicitely, that he/she has made the best possible print from a specific image and will never ever be able to do any better. This no longer holds true today in a world where technical advances are made if not daily or weekly then monthly and definitly yearly.

When I realized this about 2 years ago I decided to stop numbering my prints.  I only number my portfolios, the way Adams did, because they are collections of prints and not single images.  They represent a completed body of work at a specific date and time.   I also limit, by nature, prints that are unique, for example if I do paint touch ups to a canvas print.  These are usually just one of a kind and are indicated as such.

ALain
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 11:50:56 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2008, 04:40:58 PM »
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I have expanded on my answer in this essay:

The Numbering Affair

Alain
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Alain Briot
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luong
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2008, 07:57:04 PM »
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> it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing purposes

Not necessarily. For instance, Micheal Kenna (who is consistently very popular with collectors) states that he limits his editions because he does not want to spend his life printing again and again the same images. I agree with this approach, as I feel an artist needs to move on, but I entirely respect those who prefer to revisit the same images over and over again.


> When I realized this about 2 years ago I decided to stop numbering my prints.  

Alain, if you offer limited edition prints (as I believe you did, at one point I think you mentioned "the larger the size, the smaller the edition", and then you listed edition numbers of 10), isn't it unfair to the collectors who purchased them while they were numbered to stop numbering them ? I too, have been changing my edition numbers over the years, but all my changes have been towards smaller editions, so I suppose nobody would have grounds for complaints.
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PhillyPhotographer
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 08:01:54 PM »
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I've spoken to at least 10 local and nationally well known photographers and several collectors over the last several days trying to see what others would say face to face without them knowing how I feel about the matter. I couldn't find one that agreed with not limiting the amount of the work they produced with a common answer of "it's a way of moving on to the next project". All the collectors agreed with the photographers that unless the photographer was already famous or a print they couldn't live without they would never conceive purchasing a photograph that could number in the hundreds or sell for $20. I won't even mention what my local galleries or museum said. I would rather have 45 people who loved my print enough to pay my price then 100 or more who bought it because it was cheap or abundant. I'm not belittling people that mass produce or sell prints for $20, actually all the power to them but I'm not going to accept that what I'm doing as wrong, unethical or antiquated.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 08:31:52 PM by PhillyPhotographer » Logged

alainbriot
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2008, 08:18:20 PM »
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Alain, if you offer limited edition prints (as I believe you did, at one point I think you mentioned "the larger the size, the smaller the edition", and then you listed edition numbers of 10), isn't it unfair to the collectors who purchased them while they were numbered to stop numbering them ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221138\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Actually it makes the editions more valuable since the editions are smaller than originally intended (unless they were sold out when I stopped numbering ) :-)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 08:18:40 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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luong
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2008, 08:29:24 PM »
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Actually it makes the editions more valuable since the editions are smaller than originally intended (unless they were sold out when I stopped numbering ) :-)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221145\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

How does that work ? When you stopped numbering, did you also stop issuing all prints that had been sold prior with a number, or are you still offering them without a number ?
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luong
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2008, 09:28:45 PM »
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I have expanded on my answer in this essay:

The Numbering Affair

Alain
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's an interesting piece by an artist who, as of *very* recently limited his prints, and now writes strongly against that practice, going as far as to question the integrity of those who limit their prints.  I thought that readers may enjoy reading a piece by an artist that has taken exactly the opposite path at: [a href=\"http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/index.html?display=LimitedEditions.html]http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/index.html?di...edEditions.html[/url]
Note in particular "Given that just about everyone knows how I feel about the topic of limited editions it should be understood that what is about to transpire is NOT being done for marketing purposes" :-)
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alainbriot
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2008, 09:42:25 PM »
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How does that work ? When you stopped numbering, did you also stop issuing all prints that had been sold prior with a number, or are you still offering them without a number ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221146\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

They are offered without numbers unless the edition was sold out.
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Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
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luong
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2008, 09:51:01 PM »
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They are offered without numbers unless the edition was sold out.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221155\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Let me try to understand. By "the editions are smaller than initially intended", you mean that for instance if you sold 1/10,  2/10, 3/10 of image X, then the collectors should be happy because now the edition is actually 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, since your future prints of image X will *not* be part of the edition as they do not have any number ?
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alainbriot
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« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2008, 09:57:49 PM »
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Let me try to understand. By "the editions are smaller than initially intended", you mean that for instance if you sold 1/10,  2/10, 3/10 of image X, then the collectors should be happy because now the edition is actually 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, since your future prints of image X will *not* be part of the edition as they do not have any number ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221156\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes.
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Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
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Ronny Nilsen
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2008, 01:46:31 AM »
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> it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing purposes

Not necessarily. For instance, Micheal Kenna (who is consistently very popular with collectors) states that he limits his editions because he does not want to spend his life printing again and again the same images. I agree with this approach, as I feel an artist needs to move on, but I entirely respect those who prefer to revisit the same images over and over again.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221138\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not wanting to print the same image the rest of your life is understandable, but you do
not need a limited edition to achieve this. You can simply stop selling the image or
rise the price. I don't mind people having limited editions, but I find saying that it's not
for commercial purposes a little less than totally truthful. Again, I don't mind this, but
IMHO it doesn't have anything to do with photography and art, but is a marketing
decision.

Ronny
« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 01:47:41 AM by ronnynil » Logged

russell a
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« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2008, 12:04:44 PM »
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Do whatever you want to do, as usual there will be sufficient precedent to justify it.

Art Sinsabaugh (whose work will be shown in the Philly area at Haverford College Oct 4 - Dec 1) typically planned for editions of 3, some of which were never printed.  Unless you have an image that will become a big "hit" in your venue for whatever reason, this is probably a realistic number.  Understand that there are zillions of ways to "fudge" on a edition later, should you feel inclined.  "artist's proofs", "special editions", resized editions, etc. etc.  This is is done routinely.  The art market is not long on ethical behavior.

Technology - better printers and papers can easily motivate photographers to create a new edition that is, in fact, different from a prior edition.  How one might regard the prior (now "inferior") edition is another interesting question.
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2008, 01:55:05 PM »
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Quote from: ronnynil,Sep 8 2008, 06:27 AM
Se what  Brooks Jensen (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.




Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?

If I am right, then he seems to me to be selling cheaply in the same manner as any stock agency, where the maths is about high turnover. This rings good for the agent - BJ, who will have the turnover - but not so hot for the photographer.

Business as usual, then...

Rob C
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2008, 08:06:33 PM »
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Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.
Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=219903\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I rather admire Christopher Burkett's clever position on this. He prints beautiful hand-made Ilfochromes, which are of course quite labor intensive with all their contrast control masks. When an image is first up for sale it goes for his 'base' price. If it turns out to be popular, he progressively raises the price. If it's extremely popular, it ends up going for thousands. Buyers can decide if they're willing to pay the premium, and Burkett gets compensated for having to print the same image over & over. The 'edition size' takes care of itself.
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Ronny Nilsen
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2008, 12:57:04 AM »
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Se what  Brooks Jensen (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.


Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221255\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wrong I think. As far as I know he only sells his own images on that website,
and speaks about his own views and practice on this.

Ronny
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